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The Many Faces of Jason Voorhees

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The Friday the 13th franchise was as much a part of my childhood as Ghostbusters, Ninja Turtles and Nintendo. In every Sunday newspaper, we got a copy of the TV Weekly, which had a listing in the back of every movie playing that week. And every week, I’d go through the listing with a highlighter, searching for horror movies; particularly Friday the 13th installments (there were only 8, at the time, but there are 12, now).

I was as passionate about horror movies as I was cartoons, and perhaps even moreso, as watching horror movies required a certain test of skill and endurance for an elementary schooler. The best ones played at the wee hours on cable (Friday the 13th was a recurring theme for USA’s Up All Night), and the best-BEST ones played at the weeeee hours on HBO. Staying up late was the test of endurance, but the test of skill came in keeping a trained ear for parental footsteps and a fast finger on the remote to change the channel before they could catch me watching something I shouldn’t be.

But of all the horror flicks I digested in my youth, Friday the 13th was my favorite franchise. I’m one of those weirdos that has always enjoyed the films for the story, believe it or not, and in those early years where everything was a brand new discovery, I thrilled to the exploits of Jason Voorhees. I loved the continuity of the films and looked to Jason as the hero (because really, who watches a slasher film and roots for the teenagers?). I was hooked on his increasingly bizarre adventures.

And one of my favorite staples of each installment was the dramatic unmasking. While not every film in the series followed the formula, you could typically look forward to seeing Jason lose his mask somewhere during the climax and catch a glimpse at just how jacked-up his face has gotten between installments. There was never any rhyme or reason to his look and each makeup artist employed their own unique vision to his vile visage. “Just what is Jason gonna look like THIS time?” was something I pondered as I began each flick and I happily forced myself to stay up past 2am with as much Coke and Pixie Sticks as I could handle just to learn the answer.

So let’s take a look at Jason’s numerous faces, from the good to the bad to the ugly (okay, so they’re all ugly).

Friday the 13th (1980)

jason's face in Friday the 13th 1980

“Little Boy Jason” (portrayed by Ari Lehman), perhaps the only time that Jason ever actually scared anybody.

I remember watching the original Friday the 13th for the first time and going into it cold. All I knew is “this is the one with Jason’s mom in it” and, being a little kid, had yet to have the ending spoiled for me. So yeah, I jumped like crazy when he popped out of the water and my older brother, sitting behind, knowing it was coming, had a good laugh at my expense.

I’m not ashamed! In fact, I’m wistful. I miss the days when I could actually be frightened by movies.

With special makeup effects by Tom Savini, this is a classic look for Jason and the brief glimpse we get is more than enough. Fans fight tooth and nail to this very day over whether this appearance “counts” or not. Some believe that it represents Jason coming back from the grave to seek vengeance (meaning Jason was already a zombie before Friday the 13th Part VI) while still others take it as nothing more than a dream. Believe it or not, but this exact same argument is going to crop up twice more as we progress.

Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)

jason voorhees face in friday the 13th part 2 1981

The famous shock ending to the first film was received SO well, Steve Miner wound up ganking it for both his sequels. But you can’t recapture lightning in a bottle no matter how hard you try, fellas.

“Grizzly Adams Jason” (Warrington Gillete) marks the first and last time we’ll get to see Jason with a full head of hair until, I want to say, Jason X. And I believe it’s the only time we ever get to see Jason with a beard, too. I’ve actually come to like Jason with long hair (he kept the ‘do for all his post Jason X appearances) and the “Grizzly Adams” look is very befitting of his characterization in Part 2, as he’s described as a “frightened retard” living off the fat of the land for years. Jason sets traps in this movie (something he won’t do again until the 2009 remake) and tracks the teenagers like wild animals, solidifying his cabin-dwelling hillbilly persona.

Like the ending to the first film, fans argue the legitimacy of this appearance. The beginning of Part 3 retcons this bit out, as it shows Jason pulling the machete from his shoulder shortly after he goes down for the count (whereas he still has it lodged in him during this sequence).

Just stop thinking about this crap so hard. I didn’t care when I was 6 and I shouldn’t care, now.

Friday the 13th Part III (1982)

jason voorhees face in friday the 13th part 3 1982

“Sloth Jason” (Richard Brooker); dubbed as such because he shares an uncanny likeness with Sloth from The Goonies.

I never really cared for this look, as it always struck me as being way too “simple”. When it comes to my Friday the 13th movies, I like everything to be outrageous and over the top (drawing the line at outer space and Hellbabies, naturally), so when compared to all of Jason’s other looks, this one is just bland.

Part III is kind of a weird portrayal of Jason, anyway, as at the very beginning of the film the female lead has a flashback to an attempted rape (or possibly a successful rape) perpetrated onto her by none other than… Jason? I had no idea the guy has a sex-drive. But, again, this was pretty early in his career and he was still going through his “hillbilly” phase. He’ll outgrow it.

Friday the 14th Part IV: The Final Chapter (1984)

jason voorhees face in friday the 13th the final chapter 1984

“Madman Jason” (Ted White) represents Tom Savini’s second crack at the character and first crack at an adult version.

I really like this look, even if the face may not hold up so well under scrutiny. Unlike most of Jason’s other faces, this one is so heavy with prosthetics I sometimes wonder if there was anyone under that “mask” at all. Of course, the face only appears on screen for a scant couple of seconds, so you can only really scrutinize it via screenshots.


Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985)

jason voorhees face in friday the 13th part 5 a new beginning 1985

“Roy Jason” (Dick Wieand). I’m really only listing this for the sake of completion, as the “Jason” that starred in Part V wasn’t really Jason at all.

It was Roy.

Still, even though the “mystery” of the real killer in Part V wasn’t so well done, I do like this film for the high bodycount and the actual narrative break it represents (Jason’s return wouldn’t feel like such a big deal if he hadn’t been absent for an installment).

But still. Roy.

Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)

jason voorhees face in friday the 13th part 6 1986

“Corpse Jason” (C.J. Graham) bucks the trend set by the previous installments in the series by revealing Jason’s cadaverous countenance at the beginning of the film, rather than at the end. While I enjoyed Part VI, robbing the film of the traditional unmasking sequence felt like a major error. Formulaic, sure, but there’s something to be said about tradition.

Other than that, the only issue I take with “Corpse Jason” is that he’s so overgrown with cobwebs and maggots and mold that you can hardly tell there’s a face under there. What’s funny is that when Tommy attacks Jason’s corpse in a fit of rage, it crumbles and dust flies everywhere and it’s nothing more than a bag of bones. Then, thanks to a lightning strike, Jason rises from the grave with the physique of a pro wrestler.

Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)

jason voorhees face in friday the 13th part 7 the new blood 1989

“Zombie Jason” (Kane Hodder), perhaps the most crowd-pleasing Jason of all.

For a movie that amounts to little more than “Jason vs. Carrie”, the seventh installment in the series really got a major boost from the makeup department. His face is basically a visual track record of all the damage he’s endured over the series. There’s the hatchet wound from Part III, the machete wound from The Final Chapter and the bare skull is a nice reminder that he’s been a zombie since Part VI.

The build-up to this reveal was one of the more dramatic in the series, as the protagonist uses her mental powers to tighten Jason’s hockey mask straps to the point that his mask splits in half. While it was a shame to see the original mask bite the dust (he’d quickly find a replacement, complete with hatchet-mark, in the sequel), the reveal was definitely worth it.

This look set the standard and to date, I honestly don’t think that it’s been matched. Sadly, the series and current designers have veered away from this style. Now that Jason’s no longer a zombie, the rotting corpse look doesn’t suit him anymore. And more than that, recent media has elected to play up Jason’s “innocence” as a confused, mentally handicapped manchild, so the outrageously in-your-face EVIL look present in this design just wouldn’t fly.

But when I was a kid, THIS was “the face of Jason”.

Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)

jason voorhees face in friday the 13th part 8 jason takes manhattan

“Budget Jason” (Kane Hodder) is perhaps the most notoriously comical face the killer has ever sported. Imagine going from the demonic creature seen in the previous installment to this elephant-trumpeting Halloween Store likeness (seriously, his “scream” when he takes off his mask sounds like an elephant).

In its own way, the look makes a smidgen of sense. The reason Jason removed his mask is because he got a face-full of toxic waste, hence the “melty” effect. The end result looks so hilariously cartoonish, though, with his melted skin looking like big teeth. When I was a kid and I only had a split second to see the face while watching the film on TV, I always thought his teeth were connected directly to his lip and the overall effect reminded me of Trapjaw from He-Man.

As with the first two movies, a part of this ending is debated as being a hallucination. Unfortunately, it’s not the part where Jason loses his mask… It’s the part where he cries “Don’t let me drown, mommy” and then turns back into a little boy in swimming trunks.

And somehow, it’s still less degrading than what comes next…

Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday (1993)

“Hellbaby Jason” (Kane Hodder… kinda). Well, this is awkward.

Jason Goes to Hell holds the honor of being the first film in the series not to have any manner of unmasking sequence. Not at the beginning, not at the end, not anywhere.

Instead, it is revealed at the beginning of the film that Jason is actually a demonic entity called the “Hellbaby” and he survives by transforming his heart into a worm-thing that possesses the bodies of other individuals. By possessing the body of another Voorhees, however, he’ll be able to be reborn in a likeness similar to his old get-up (complete with shirt, pants, boots and a hockey mask).

I suppose it could be argued that the final reveal of the Hellbaby counts as an “unmasking scene”:

jason voorhees face in jason goes to hell the final friday

But you know what? F--k that.

Instead, you have two other options as to what Jason may have looked like beneath the mask in Jason Goes To Hell.

Firstly, here’s what the rubber head Kane Hodder wore looked like before the hockey mask was attached:

Sorry about the quality of the image; I took a screencap off a YouTube video.

As you can see, though, the “face” isn’t really a face at all, despite some inexplicable skull detailing around the eyes and nose that no one would ever get to see.

Your other option is the McFarlane Toys Jason Voorhees action figure released in the very first wave of the Movie Maniacs series:

And again, sorry for the crappy image, but this was all I could find online and my toy is still mint on card (because I’m a dork).

Hey, gimme a break. When that first wave of Movie Maniacs toys came out, I just about lost my mind. Action figures of Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees? It was a dream come true.

Anyway, as anybody who owns that toy is well aware, the mask is glued to Jason’s face; you aren’t supposed to remove it. When the toy was in production, they had intended for the mask to be removable, but concerns either with the fragility of the hockey mask straps or the s----y quality of the face sculpt resulted in the mask getting hot-glued on there like there was no tomorrow.

Still, with a little effort, you can take a peek. Whether that’s actually what Jason was intended to look like in “Jason Goes To Hell” is debatable, but that toy WAS an officially licensed “Jason Goes To Hell” product.

Jason X (2002)

jason voorhees face in jason x

“Gooey Jason” (Kane Hodder, for the fourth and final time) seems to have a visage inspired by his appearance in The Final Chapter, only pruned like he spent too much time in the swimming pool. This design also brought back a head of hair, not seen since Part 2. Not much hair, no, but his flowing locks would continue to thicken as we’re treated to each subsequent installment.

Like Part VI, Jason X opts to show us Jason’s mug at the beginning of the film, shortly before he’s revived. So while there’s no dramatic unmasking scene at the end, Jason DOES get transformed into a robot called Über-Jason.


Freddy vs. Jason (2005)

Jason gets played by two actors in this one. First, there’s “Young Jason” (Spencer Stump), who gives us our first and clearest look at Jason in his original human boy form:

jason voorhees face in freddy vs. jason

As for “Secret Jason” (Ken Kirzinger), I call him that because they never show him unmasked in the actual film. This is all you get:

Oddly, a full version of his face was created and applied to actor Ken Kirzinger, but never used:

It’s a pretty good look, I think. I actually didn’t get a chance to see this face until I bought NECA’s Freddy vs. Jason action figure box set, as the toy came with a removable hockey mask. In a way, buying the toy so I could unmask it and see the face reminded me of that Dr. Claw toy released in the Inspector Gadget line way back when. While Jason isn’t an old bearded man like Dr. Claw, both villains are equally derp-eyed.

Friday the 13th (2009)

Just to get it out of the way, we got another “Young Jason” (Caleb Guss) briefly at the beginning:

jason voorhees face in friday the 13th part

After that, though, we’re treated to…

“Return of the Hillbilly Jason” (Derek Mears) subdues all the crazy zombie stuff that’d been going on in the previous batch of films, taking Jason back to his roots as a “frightened retard” living in the woods.

His face seems to take most of its inspiration from “Sloth Jason” as seen in Part III, while the long hair is a throwback to the “Grizzly Adams” look he sported in Part 2

As stated before, I think Jason’s at his best when he looks like the walking dead (as that was the version of Jason I grew up with), so I tend to find these “disfigured but still human” takes to be a little boring by comparison. The 2009 remake was still a pretty good flick, all things considered, and sack-headed Jason actually looked cooler than hockey masked Jason, if you can believe it.

The Comics

Between Topps, Avatar, Wildstorm and Dynamite Entertainment, Jason has starred in a number of comics over the years, many of which have taken the liberty of revealing his face to us. Digging through my collection, here’s a look at as many peeks behind the mask that I could find.

From Jason vs. Leatherface #2 (art by Jeff Butler, published by Topps):

From Friday the 13th #1 (art by Mike Wolfer, published by Avatar):

Cover to Friday the 13th: Bloodbath #1 (art by Mike Wolfer, published by Avatar):

From Friday the 13th: Jason vs. Jason X #2 (art by Mike Wolfer, published by Avatar):

Cover to Friday the 13th #1 (art by Ryan Sook, published by Wildstorm):

From Friday the 13th: Pamela’s Tale #1 (art by Shawn Moll, published by Wildstorm)

From Friday the 13th: How I Spent my Summer Vacation #2 (art by Adam Archer, published by Wildstorm)

From Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash #5 (art by Jason Craig, published by Wildstorm and Dynamite Entertainment):

From Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash: The Nightmare Warriors #1 (art by Jason Craig, published by Wildstorm and Dynamite Entertainment):

And there you have it, everybody: The most comprehensive look at Jason’s noggin as I could throw together. For a guy considered to be fairly shallow and one dimensional, he’s had more unique looks than Lady Gaga.

Watch the Friday the 13th films right on your computer with Amazon Video.

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